Contributor: Lynda Davies

In our increasingly busy lives knowing what we need to do, and when, is a critical part of getting through the week, the month and the term. It is true for both us and our students. Research shows that not all of our students consciously think about how they learn, and we often see that they find it difficult to “connect the dots” between what we ask them to learn and do, time-on-task, and results. It is why we have been working with colleagues and students to develop ways of showing how our course design is set up, and what types of activities students will be involved in throughout the course.

As explained in the video we believe one of these ways is using infographics. Through these we are able to illustrate to students how one course is part of their whole teaching period enrolment; what that represents in terms of time-on-task for this one course; what types of activities and interactions they’ll encounter; and the proportion of time that we anticipate each component will take.

Design questions , however, underpin the creation of these infographics.

We will have explored ideas around what will our students do… with us? … With each other? and … On their own? We will have explored how we are going to deliver content (through lectures; online mini-lectures and topic videos; seminars; pre-class readings). We will have explored how students will build knowledge and skills (through tutorials, workshops, online sessions). We will have explored which activities are best done together (teacher-students; students-students) and which ones alone. And we will have sorted out why we think each of those activities are going to offer our students the best opportunity to learn.

The combination of the course design and the infographic help students make sense of the work they need to do and to plot a pathway that prioritises their time and focusses what they do.


It is about shaping both their expectations and dispositions to learning in our course. Explaining how collaborative and independent learning fits and works together and how these elements work for them “in the classroom” and “beyond the classroom” can create more positive attitudes towards the type of work we need them to do. Can we show our students why we are asking them to work in certain ways, and the subsequent benefits to them?

We have researched and designed two tipsheets in particular around this idea “Collaborative and Independent Learning Activities in AEL” and “Designing Learning Activities”. In these tipsheets we discuss:

  • Capturing and designing learning activities for 150 hours Volume of Learning (VoL);
  • What is Collaborative Learning, why use it, and examples of Collaborative Learning activities?
  • Strategies for course and learning activities design;
  • What capabilities are developed or improved through Collaborative Learning – including the immediate and long term benefits?
  • How to connect Independent Learning Activities with Collaborative Learning Activities;
  • Conceptualising student and teaching team’s roles in the learning environment; and
  • Facilitating activities with technology-enabled learning.


Consider one of your course designs with these two questions in mind:

  • What does Collaborative Learning look like in your discipline? and
  • What mix of collaborative and independent learning will work best for your students?

In a future post we will explore the design of Collaborative and Independent Learning activities in more depth.


See our tipsheets:

Volume of Learning in AEL

Collaborative and Independent Learning Activities

Designing Learning Activities


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